Singer N'Dour weighs in on Senegal election

Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:26pm EDT
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By David Clarke

DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour has stepped up his drive to hold politicians in his West African country to account ahead of February elections that could fuel resentment against President Abdoulaye Wade's 11-year rule.

In a speech broadcast on the singer's television channel TFM (Television Futurs Medias) late on Wednesday, N'Dour said he wanted to stop politicians believing they could govern with impunity once in office.

"For my part, I've decided to get involved. I will not let the situation in my country, which I did not leave for other places, deteriorate," N'Dour said. "God willing, I will play my part."

N'Dour stressed he was not planning to run for office, but wanted to be of service to the Senegalese people and help them overcome their innumerable difficulties and challenges.

Senegal has long cherished its reputation as the region's most stable and democratic country and has had many peaceful elections since independence from France in 1960.

But there are increasing concerns over the concentration of power around octogenarian Wade, and growing frustrations over worsening public services and higher food prices.

Simmering resentment boiled over in June when Wade proposed cutting the score needed to win an election to 25 percent from 50 percent -- a level Wade's rivals said would have assured him a first-round victory against a fractured opposition.

Protesters, also enraged by chronic power cuts, clashed with riot police in the capital Dakar leaving more than 100 injured and forcing the president to back down.   Continued...

<p>Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour gestures during an interview with Reuters before his concert at the 44th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux July 9, 2010. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud</p>